Twin Cities United Way opens COVID-19 response and recovery fund

MSR News Online/MSR News Online

Greater Twin Cities United Way last week started a Greater Twin Cities COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and expanded its 211 Resource Helpline Service.

The United Way is prioritizing its fundraising around food; shelter; child care; sanitary and hygiene supplies; and financial assistance, and will direct funds to its existing nonprofit grantees.

People can donate at www.gtcuw.org or by texting GTCUWCOVID19 to 51555. One hundred percent of all donations will go directly to the community to help those who are most vulnerable, including people experiencing poverty.

“During this very difficult time, we are thankful to have a deep connection with nearly 100 nonprofit partners we support, enabling us to respond to community needs in the most relevant ways,” said John Wilgers, President and CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way.

Expanded 211 Resource Helpline Service

Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 211 resource helpline is staffed by Certified Community Resource Specialists who are trained to provide referrals to local resources related to accessing food, paying housing bills and other essential services. For help, dial 211or participate in a live chat via United Way’s 211 website.

The 211 resource helpline is a critical resource for parents with kids of all ages. Given school closures, people with questions about food distribution sites and child care are encouraged to call 211. This frees up school district staff to respond to other needs while leveraging the expertise of 211 specialists and the 211 infrastructure.

According to United Way’s 95 nonprofit partners, the most urgent needs include:

Food support: There’s an increase in food shelf demands and for meals among school-aged children and youth. Mobile delivery food programs also are strained.

Shelter support: There’s a need for segmented shelter for people who must be put under quarantine and for those who are waiting for test results.

Sanitary and hygiene supplies: There’s a need for hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, paper towels, wipes and other basic sanitary materials, especially for organizations that manage multi-unit housing residencies.

Direct financial assistance: Closures of restaurants, businesses and other employers have created financial challenges for hourly workers (e.g., ability to pay rent).

Affordable child care: essential workers with children have this need.